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Opinion

Trump throws down the Arctic gauntlet: get ready for a rocky summer

By Adam Lajeunesse      

American administrations have noted their objections to Canadian sovereignty for years. Barack Obama did it, George Bush Jr. did it, Ronald Reagan did it, Richard Nixon did it. What is important, however, is that no American president has ever sought to actively challenge that sovereignty. With Donald Trump, that looks set to change.

U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pictured on Nov. 30, 2018, at the USMCA signing ceremony in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photograph courtesy of Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

On Monday, May 6, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a jaw-droppingly aggressive speech to the Arctic Council. In his remarks, he focused on Russian and Chinese activity in the region, but more surprisingly made time to call out the Canadian position in the Northwest Passage, deriding its “illegitimate” sovereignty and reminding the audience that the U.S. has a long-standing “feud” with Canada over the issue dating back decades.

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